You are amazing. We already know it! You’re amazing for supporting local and for caring about the environment. We hope to create ripples with this collaborative project by spreading awareness that we can do tangible things today that make a difference for the future health of our earth.
What is this?
This collaborative project “Gift of Nature” is created between Prairie Soap Shack Ltd. and Repurposed Plastic, both of central Alberta. Our all-natural bar of soap paired with a soap dish made entirely of recycled plastic bottle caps is an exciting new product we have created where all proceeds are being donated to Nature Conservancy of Canada. We aim to spread information about making eco-conscious choices and want to support NCC’s work to protect our country’s most precious natural places.
Who are we?
We are a best friend team; Jess and Karyn. Jess is the owner and maker behind Prairie Soap Shack Ltd. and Karyn is the creator behind Repurposed Plastic. We have known each other since playing at a local lake together at 4 years old, not knowing one day we would be making our own ripples in protecting the earth. We are a creative duo, both mothers and passionate about creating positive changes for our children’s futures.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters TO CREATE MANY RIPPLES.” -Mother Teresa
Jess’ Story- I created Prairie Soap Shack Ltd. in early 2019 with a business model of making all-natural skin and body care products using wildcrafted and homegrown ingredients from our farm in central AB, along with a goal of connecting people with nature.
This Gift Of Nature bar soap is made with all-natural ingredients with the special touch of local honey, a true gift in nature. Honey has humectant properties so it helps add moisture to the skin. There are no synthetic fragrances or artificial colours- we don’t need those in skin care. The stamp I used to inscribe the soap bar was 3D printed by my eleven year old nephew, Karter. I am thrilled to have been able to involve the next generation in this project.
It is important to me to make eco-conscious choices in my business as I want to be part of the change. All my soap labels are recyclable and shipping materials are paper products or reused packaging. I chose glass or tin for my bottles instead of plastic. I do not support the use of palm oil in my products as this adds to the deforestation in Asia. These simple yet effectual choices matter as we can all be influenced by others and to think twice before making purchases that could impact the health of Earth.
I care deeply about making sustainable choices when formulating my all-natural products. I mindfully and respectfully wildcraft plants that are in abundance close to where we live and grow other ingredients in my garden. I have come to learn the importance of connecting with our surroundings, in order to be able to care for our nature. How can you properly care for something if you don’t understand it? You have to spend time in nature, indulging your senses and learning about this wondrous life surrounding us all. Learn the names of the wild plants in your yard, watch the bees pollinate and marvel at the tenacity of the medicinal dandelion instead of begrudging it. Once you do this, then you can truly feel the importance of the reciprocal relationship that needs to exist.
“You have to spend time in nature, indulging your senses and learning about this wondrous life surrounding us all.” - Jessica
Karyn’s Story with Repurposed Plastic
For two years I have been collecting plastic bottle caps from the community with the goal of repurposing that plastic into useful products, thus reducing plastic waste. Being as recycling plastic in this way is unconventional; it has been a challenging process of trial and error. I am so happy to say that with our 'Gift of Nature' project, my dream has come to fruition and I am very excited to share that with you.
It all started with my 3D printer a few years ago; I wanted to know if I could somehow print with plastic from the recycle bin rather than buying new plastic filament. That thought inspired me and initiated the journey that led to the creation of this very soap dish. In my early research, I stumbled upon a collaborative group called Precious Plastic, “an alternative plastic recycle system that aims to enable people around the world to tackle the plastic problem”. Through their website and resources I had access to plans for DIY recycle machines including plastic shredders, extruders, injectors and all the information that was needed to make my own recycling process work...one important element that I would come to know was required: patience. As I look back in reflection, it has been two years of trial and error, excitement, frustration and certainly determination and resilience. A few failed machines, dead ends and learning curves all fueled by a growing knowledge of the realities of plastic waste. In 2017, National Geographic wrote that “of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled. The vast majority—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. Meaning: at some point, much of it ends up in the oceans, the final sink.” They also stated that “plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form.”
Plastic bottles caps, which caught my interest early on, are often too small to recycle. The city of Calgary website states 'even if they are made from a recyclable material, caps are too small and light to be sorted properly by the sorting machines at the recycling facility and end up contaminating other recyclables. Tip: If the lid is smaller than the palm of your hand, it belongs in the garbage'.
If you take your bottles directly to the bottle depot the 'Alberta Depot runs one of the only programs in Canada that follows the industry recommended practice for recycling plastic bottle caps'; but with only 9% of our plastic actually getting recycled I saw an area that I really wanted to focus on.
- “Bottle caps are among the top 5 items found during beach cleaning and beach litter monitoring around the world.
- Over the last 30 years, more than 20 million bottle caps and lids were found during beach cleaning activities around the world. Currently, it is unknown how many bottle caps actually enter our oceans and wash up on shore.
- Plastic bottle caps are made of hard plastics and degrade very slowly.
- Plastic bottle caps are among the top 5 ocean trash items that are deadly for sea life.”
This project became my mission. It became the challenge I needed to take on and boy oh boy, challenge accepted. I've met some wonderful people along the way. One thing about this recycling journey is that all the people I have met seem to have the same collaborative mindset to help each other to achieve a much larger goal than just the one they have set for themselves. It's all about making a difference, doing the right thing and taking care of our planet. As Precious Plastic puts it, "small steps, multiplied by millions. That's where we can win our battle."
This soap dish is made from community donated plastic bottle caps. The plastic has been shredded, then melted and injected into a custom mold which was designed by Jess and I. The shredder took a good year to build. The steel pieces were cut by Lasermann Cuts out of Red Deer and then put together by myself and a couple helpful, knowledgeable minds, including my Dad, Hank Kunst. Many thanks to everyone that has helped make that machine a reality. The injection process is a collaborative work with Nada Makes (www.nadamakes.com) out of Edmonton who is also a part of the Precious Plastic community.
‘Gift of Nature’ has gone from being a dream, to now becoming a reality, and I am so excited to see where it goes. I am constantly dreaming up ideas of what else can be created from plastic bottle caps to maximize the amount that we can divert away from becoming waste. I am currently working on earrings made from recycled bottle caps and excited to release this project in the near future. For updates, follow Repurposed Plastic on Instagram @repurposedplastic and Facebook @byrepurposedplastic - I look forward to seeing you there!
If you are interested in donating your plastic bottle caps to Repurposed Plastic, donation bins are located behind The Wooden Spoon in Sedgewick and Twice Nice in Killam, Alberta.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has donated plastic over the last couple years. I recognize your time, effort and intention in doing so and that has been a large motivator to continue striving for success with this project no matter the hurdles that I faced.
"Let us all cast stones together and let those resulting ripples become a wave that creates change as transformative as the tides." - Karyn
When Karyn and I came up with this idea together to make an all-natural bar of soap paired with a recycled plastic soap dish, it just felt like the right fit. We have been on a journey together of expanding our environmentalism passion and determining what skills we have that we can contribute. We care deeply about creating positive change and want to connect with others that are like-minded.
“Being naturalized to a place means to live as if this is the land that feeds you, as if these are the streams from which you drink, that build your body and fill your spirit. To become naturalized is to know that your ancestors lie in this ground. Here you will give your gifts and meet your responsibilities. To become naturalized is to live as if your children’s future matters, to take care of the land as if our lives and the lives of all our relatives depend on it. Because they do.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
“We are at a unique stage in our history. Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that. Surely we all have a responsibility to care for our Blue Planet. The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us.”
― David Attenborough
Other ways you can help:
- Save your bottle caps and send them to Karyn
- Get outside and learn a new plant today
- Form a deep connection to the natural world around you by practicing presence, wonder and gratitude
- Pick up a piece of garbage outside
- Share our idea with others
- Be mindful about purchasing sustainable products